The City of Lobsters

Once upon a time, Chicago was a city where newspapers, radio, and television news shows competed furiously with one another for news. When I started at the Chicago Tribune right out of the University of Kansas, Chicago had five competing newspapers and the world’s best training ground for reporters—the City New Bureau. A number of all-news radio stations covered the city 24/7 with squads of hard-nosed reporters. Ditto, TV stations.

Newspapers—The Sun-Times, the Daily News, the Chicago American (which became Chicago Today), the Tribune, and the Chicago Defender—battled one another for exclusives and to be first with breaking news by putting out special editions and “replates,” i.e., the replacement of earlier printing plates with new ones containing updated information.

The news business was tough, demanding, and stressful. And we liked it that way. Each day presented reporters with another opportunity to hone our reporting skills—to report a story copiously, quickly, and, most of all, accurately. After a few years of covering whatever Chicago threw at me (crime, politics, disaster, etc.) I experienced a revelation.

“I can cover any story, anywhere, anytime,” I thought to myself. “And I can do it fast and accurately.” I had “arrived.” I was a good reporter, and most of all, the Tribune trusted me to cover any story and to meet its array of deadlines.

 All of this is a preface to the column below by Roy Santoro, who spent 40 years in Chicago TV news as an investigative reporter, writer, and producer. In it, he refers to Chicago’s voters as passive “lobsters” sitting obliviously in hot water while corrupt politicians control the heat. Santoro’s commentary first appeared in the blog:

 Read on. You won’t be disappointed.  

The City of Lobsters

by Roy Santoro

In three weeks, the city of lobsters will go to the polls in an attempt to elect a mayor. I call Chicago the city of lobsters because, like lobsters the people here sit in a pot as the water slowly comes to a boil.

Chicago, Cook County, and Illinois love to elect people who “make history” but who are unable to change the course of history. The lobsters love to talk about diversity but silence anyone who does not look like them, think like them, or talk like them. You cannot claim to be diverse and then tell someone to shut up because of the color of their skin, their gender, or the fact they actually work for a living.

The lobsters watch as businesses leave, and people tired of crime, taxes, and corruption flee to other states. No one even notices anymore how few republicans or independents appear on their ballot, how few real choices they really have. They are obsessed with electing someone who looks like them, talks like them, and thinks like them. What Chicago needs is a real leader, willing to tell them the truth, stand up to the woke, and do the hard things needed to turn the city around.

You can’t blame all of the problems on the politicians. We elect our worst and then expect them to do great things.

The news media sits by and covers it all with no real context or purpose. The coverage this past week has been typical. With rare exceptions, it was all about new polls, meaningless endorsements, and more debate about abortion. It is all processed crap with no discussion of anything that really affects your daily life.

Too many television newsrooms are filled with graduates of colleges with safe spaces who don’t understand the world and how functioning societies work. They are filled with too many people who are not from here and don’t understand the history or culture here. They are filled with too many people who think their job is to change the world and not simply report on it.

You can’t get the right answers if you don’t ask the right people the right questions. Your newscasts are filled with crime, fires, promos for network shows, and consumer reports pulled from network feeds because budget cuts have gutted newsroom staff. What you should be getting are real stories about healthcare, food prices, taxes, education, the economy, transportation, and affordable housing. Things that matter.

I worked in television news in Chicago for 40 years. It was back in the day when there was vigorous debate over what stories were covered. Mayor Rahm Emanuel was invited into our newsroom one day and took tough questions from the entire newsroom because he didn’t think he was getting a fair shake. Lori Lightfoot might want to give that a try. Police superintendent Garry McCarthy would come into our newsroom at Fox every week, good news or bad, to answer questions about crime. We invited newsmakers instead of entertainers. We asked the questions that mattered.

During my days in the investigative unit at CBS, I went into Chicago public school classrooms to see the real problems teachers face every day. We didn’t rely on soundbites from union hacks or politicians; we heard from the teachers actually teaching our kids. They told us what was really wrong with the schools, the parents, and clueless politicians.

Roy Santoro in the Producer’s Control Booth

Some news coverage is actually racist, implying blacks and Hispanics are too stupid to figure out how to register or cast a ballot. You are led to believe “they,” all think the same and should vote the same, regardless of the issues or their personal beliefs.

Too many of the lobsters living in Chicago are obsessed, stressed, and depressed. They are afraid of everything. The fact there are still people driving alone with masks on in their cars tells you everything you need to know about the mindset here. Many still don’t understand that nothing any politician, cable news doctor, or health official said protected them from Covid. I don’t say so. The numbers say so, and the science says so.

Look at the list of candidates running for mayor. Do you honestly think any of them will bring serious change to the city? Do any of them have the courage to stand up to the unions, the woke, and the fools driving Chicago into the ground? Do any of them have the will to deal with the growing number of radicals infesting the city council?

Where should you go to news that matters? The Chicago Tribune, the Sun-Times, the Daily Herald, Block Club Chicago, the Associated Press, CNBC, Crain’s Chicago Business, C-Span, and other small local press operations. Yeah, they cost money, but good journalism isn’t free.

I was born in Chicago, worked here my whole adult life, and raised my family here. I know what Chicago was and what it has become. Elect whomever you wish on February 28th. Just don’t pretend things will be different when you wake up the next morning.


Roy Santoro is a 40-year veteran of Chicago TV news. He has won numerous awards for his work at WGN, CBS, and Fox. He worked in the trenches as a show producer, writer, and investigative producer. Now that he has retired, he has written several books, including Broken News: Journalism in Crisis, a history of Chicago TV news, and his days in the business. Other titles include. “The Second Civil War” and “One More Day in the Sun”. His new book, Hurricane Ian: Stories from the Storm, is due out next month. It will include first-hand accounts from survivors and look at why so many died when Ian hit Florida.

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About Ronald E. Yates

Ronald E. Yates is an award-winning author of historical fiction and action/adventure novels, including the popular and highly-acclaimed Finding Billy Battles trilogy. Read More About Ron Here

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